I don’t know if you’re out there, but if you are and need to read this, this is for you…I wish someone had told me these things 25 years ago.
Dear Latina who believes in rainbows,
- A real Latina never allows anyone, including media, and especially magazines targeted to Latinas, to define her. No one, not even this list can define you. Only you can.
- Speaking Spanish makes you bilingual, but it does not make you a real Latina. Same goes for dancing Salsa, Bachata, or any other Latino inspired dance.
- If you understand number 1, then you understand that there can be no such thing as a Latina stereotype. That term has less to do with you and has more to do with someone else’s idea of who they think you are.
- If someone tells you to go back home, respond, “I am,” then smile. And you can always show them maps of Florida, Texas, and California and point to the Spanish named cities.
- If someone tells you that you don’t look or sound Latina, respond by showing them a picture of a monkey in a clown suit, smoking a cigar or a pipe, just because a dumb comment deserves a silly response.
- Or if you’d rather be more diplomatic and less obnoxious then advise them to travel outside of their neighborhood more often. Or you could show them a picture of the Spice Girls and tell them how this picture is a perfect example of what Latinas could look like.
- Anyone who calls you a SPIC calls you that because they have a very limited view of the world. They need to feel superior to you, so they choose words they think will hurt you. So let me tell you now that there are many words out there meant to hurt you. But they can only hurt you if you believe those words are true.
- If someone asks you what a Latina is, just respond with a simple, me. Try not to tell anyone what you think a Latina is. Unless of course you say, I am a Latina but I don’t represent the full spectrum of the Latina rainbow.
- If someone calls you a wannabe Latina, walk away. Really. Don’t bother wasting your time. Some people need to feel right in order to feel whole. In time, they will learn. Hopefully.
- If someone on the news refers to a suspect as Hispanic-looking, please know that they just made a big mistake so don’t be embarrassed. There is no such thing as a Hispanic-looking person. Again, the same person who came up with the term Latina stereotype probably came up with Hispanic-looking suspect.
- (Similar to number 1) Beware of any book, movie, or product, marketed to Latinos. Some will change your life for the better, and some will try to sell you on someone you are not. Buy with caution and don’t ever judge a book by its cover. Use your intuition.
- Don’t assume that what is popular is the best thing for you. Sometimes you will find rare gems in the unlikeliest places, like small films and books, free videos and blogs, and kind and generous people who want to share words of wisdom for nothing in return.
- If you grow up in a place where you feel different, outcast, or alone, and you wish you were less you and more like them, remember all you have to do is look at the map of the world and know that there are hundreds of other places where people like you exist. You are not alone.
Linda, an ODD GIRL who knows what you’re going through :)